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Monday 7 March 2011

Iceland Tendercooked... Pork in Sweet Chilli Sauce

It has, at various points in my chequered past, been rumoured that I am vegetarian. It has further been suggested that I make an exception for chicken. This is not entirely accurate.

I don't exactly flash my carnivorous credentials at every opportunity, and I do have a tendency toward vegetarian options when dining out... I have been known to tuck into the products offered by KFC with alarming regularity, but regular readers of this 'ere blog will know by now that I am perfectly capable of consuming meats other than the common farm fowl.

Beef is a different matter, however. It is highly unlikely that beef will ever be covered in this blog simply because it seems to make me physically sick (though, upon reflection, that could easily be more to do with an issue I have with my stomach rather than the meat itself...).

Pork, on the other hand, and like lamb, is one of those meats that I used to eat quite regularly when I lived with my folks, but which I slowly grew to dislike with a passion. Not quite sure what it was that precipitated this change, but it had been many years since I'd last eaten pork (except perhaps in sausage form) before I was introduced to the wonderful restaurant Bodean's, which specialises in pork dishes. They also serve root beer, which is always a winner in my books.

I have yet to sample their take-away BBQ packs but, whilst perusing my local Iceland, I happened to see that the pork entry in their own 'Tendercooked...' line (and, yes, it really has those three dots) came in a sweet chilli sauce, and couldn't resist. As is normally the case, the image on the packaging is exceptionally appetising, with a tender, moist looking chunk of pork slathered with a rich, chunky sauce...

...And then, there's the reality.

I have to say, I'm half tempted to put up a photo of my 'leftovers' from this meal... I cooked it as directed, served it with chunky, oven-cooked chips and, while it was reasonably tender and quite moist, it also came with a large dose of rind and a good clump of vascular tissue.

Now, anyone who knows me will happily confirm that I can be a fussy little bugger when it comes to my food. I will often leave something on the side of the plate just because it doesn't look right. I don't even attempt to eat gristle. If meat is served on the bone, there is frequently still some meat on the bone when I pronounce myself 'finished'. My fussiness has diminished somewhat since I've been living on my own but, when it comes to bloody great arteries in my food, I have to fight my gag reflex just looking at it, let alone considering putting it in my mouth.

Yes, gentle reader, I'll eat meat... but I'd rather not be reminded that it was once a living creature.

So when I found this conglomeration of blood vessels, nestled in with a huge strip of rind, I very nearly decided to tip the whole thing away and head out for some takeaway.

I know, I know, for a whole £2 I shouldn't be expecting the choicest cuts of fine pork... and perhaps this is just me being terribly fussy about my food... but, equally, a 'pork steak' in my books is a chunk of meat... not a chunk of meat, fat and capillaries.

The meat that was there and palatable was nice enough, but nothing special. It had that slightly crunchy texture of roast pork that I would not normally associate with the term 'tendercooked', and the flavour of the meat was edging toward blandness. The sweet chilli sauce, as far as flavour goes, was this meal's saving grace, and tasted excellent... but it was remarkably thin, with none of the richness suggested by the photography.

Overall, this is one for the individual to weigh up in their own heart and mind. It's a decent-sized hunk of pork in a nice, spicy - if thin - sauce and it only costs a couple of quid... but that pricepoint offers no guarantee of quality.

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